Ketamine might assist in alleviating compulsive eating, a recent study featured in the journal Neuropharmacology has revealed.
Ketamine (Ketalar) is considered to be mainly an NMDA receptor antagonist, triggering dissociative anesthesia, through which patients don’t fall unconscious, but experience temporary sensory loss, and feel detached from the environment and their own bodies.
The substance has other medical benefits, as a painkiller, antidepressant and sedative. In addition, it’s also considered a popular “party drug”, under the nickname “Special K”, because of its ability to induce out-of-the-body sensations, coupled with intense hallucinations.
Now, researchers have tested its properties when it comes to alleviating one of the behaviors most frequently linked to chronic depression: compulsive eating.
The study was led by Sophie Dutheil, post-doctoral associate in psychiatry at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The experiments, involving laboratory rats, were conducted under the guidance of Ronald Duman, professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at the same academic institution.
The animals were initially placed on a hypercaloric diet, through which they consumed approximately 6 times more fats than usual. When analyzing the rats 4 months afterwards, it was discovered that their neural synapses had been severely weakened, resulting in lower brain plasticity and metabolic perturbations.
Moreover, the rodents also exhibited symptoms suggesting they had become much more distressed and anxious than usual.
However, when the animals were administered one small dose of Ketalar, all such manifestations vanished. Even more remarkably, mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) neural pathways, which boost adaptability, metabolism and growth, had also been restored, functioning just as effectively as before the experiment.
Based on these findings, study authors think they have once again proven that eating high quantities of fat on a daily basis tends to be correlated with negative states of mind, and also throws metabolism off-balance, leading to type 2 diabetes and other similar conditions.
In addition, the experiment’s coordinators now believe that ketamine might be a viable treatment against compulsive eating associated with depression and chronic stress.
However, since research is still in its embryonic phases, more studies must be carried out, eventually on human subjects as well, in order to further examine this theory regarding the benefits of this medicine against binge eating.
Scientists must also conduct more tests so as to identify the best therapeutic dose for humans, given the fact that for now the drug’s potency has only been evaluated during animal trials.
Therefore, even if this anesthetic does indeed prove reliable and beneficial in assisting those who suffer from compulsive eating, it might take a while before the drug can be prescribed and administered with this particular purpose in mind.
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